Are You Born Funny??

I have always wondered weather we are born funny, or if it's something we learn. Is having a good sense of humor genetic, or are you taught it? My mother has a great sense of humor (my dad not so much), my siblings and I all seemed to get out sense of humor form my mom. So is being funny caused by NATURE OR NURTURE?

Where Does Humor Come From?
For many people humor is learned from cultural influences. These cultural influenecs include friends and family, tv, media, ect. But how would you explain siblings exposed to all the same influences that have different sense of humors? Could we be predisposed to find certain things funny?


Arguments for NATURE
Some researchers believe that there is in-fact a "funny" gene. Some scientists even claimed to have found the gene responsible for your sense of humor. The fact that the ability to find things funny is not shared by all people makes scientists believe sense of humor is due to nature. Horace Epstein is a genetics that studies the why we're funny. Epstein conducted an experiment to test the nature vs nurture debate over sense of humor. Epstein found a large family in Kentucky and he compared the members who liked Seinfeld vs those that liked watching C-SPAN. By doing this Epstein claims he was "able to narrow down the gene's location to a large track of DNA sequence on the X chromosome." Epstein honed in on and noticed a difference in three stretches of DNA between those who preferred Seinfeld vs those who liked C-SPAN. The researchers then took this gene to mice. One of the three mice gave a high pitch squeak when shown a clip of an anvil being dropped on a cat. Epstein believes this was the mice laughing and expressing humorous behavior. This isn't a definite answer, however it is a very good start and hopefully more research will be done to prove it right or wrong for sure.

Arguments For NURTURE
The humor gene is very hard to prove. As easily as one can say you got your sense on humor from a gene passed on by a parent, one can argue the sense of humor is a learned trait. Sense of humor can easily be influenced by being around humor while growing up, and taking what you hear from your surroundings. Scientists argue that if it were a gene identical twins (who have the exact same DNA and should be exactly the same) would have the exact same sense of humor, but they don't. It is a common belief that a gene could increase the likely hood that you behave a certain way, but it does not make people do things.


I think this is a hard subject to identify as genetic. While some contain this "humor gene" not everyone is going to find them humorous. Everyone's sense of humor is different. For example, some enjoy the clumsy and staged "Three Stooges", and others prefer the intelligent and sarcastic "Big Bang Theory". It also varies from generation to generation as well. So I lean towards the side of nurture on this one. Not only are we influenced by our parents' sense of humor, but our friends as well. I know for a fact, no matter what gene I have, not many people find me as funny as my friends do. BUT, If there is such a gene, I'd be interested to see if there are any variations of the gene to accommodate for all the different types of funnies. I found this link which lists all the different types of humor. Which one are you?!

I don't think humor is genetic. I think it is inherited through the environment, like you said you and your siblings all have a sense of humor like your mom, and I think that is probably because you have been exposed to her throughout most of your life. From personal experiences, I think my sense of humor differs depending on the group of people I'm with. When I'm reunited with my friends from high school, I revert to my more immature sense of humor compared to the friends I have made in college. You brought up that twins do not have identical sense of humors, which definitely challenges the nature debate. I found thisanalysis of a study in which 127 female identical twins were tested and further provided that humor is a product of our environment.

I definitely think that humor is something that comes from nurture. It may be influenced by genes that make you more outgoing, open-minded, easy-going, but humor itself I believed is learned from the environment you grew up in. Personally, I have realized that the majority of my friends and I have the same sense of humor. I think that people wish to be accepted by those around them and a way of feeling like you belong is being able to laugh and enjoy the same things as your fellow friends. I definitely agree that there are genetic influences that have effect on one's ability to be humorous but I find it hard to believe that there is an inherited gene that determines whether you are funny or not.

Well, since no one seems to be on the side of humor being genetic, I'll have a go at it! First, let me say how fascinating it is to find out that mice can laugh. I think that alone deserves to be it's very own blog post, but I digress. Though I think nurture has plenty to do with whether or not you have a sense of humor and what kind of humor it is, I don't think we should discount nature just yet. From my personal experience, I've seen people who deliver jokes and comments in a much funnier and more original way than others. It could have something to do with where and from whom you learned to be funny, but it could also just be a natural function that is a result of you and your genes.
I found the study you referenced very interesting. There are often scientific problems and questions that have me scratching my head, simply because I can't figure out how someone would possibly test and measure the dependent variable. The idea of taking a huge family and dividing them into C-SPAN and Seinfeld-watchers in order to study their genetic make-up is creative to say the least.
It would be interesting to study how people who are blind or deaf deliver humor. For example, is the blind test subject (who has been blind all of his or her life) funny based on physical movement and motion? If so, this would be a strong argument in favor of nature. Having never seen people be "funny" through physical actions, we could only assume this was due to nature.

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